mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Blue Bust abroad
French Socialists Aren’t Feeling the Bern

France’s Socialist government, having concluded that socialist labor legislation is stifling job growth and propping up the unemployment rate, is enacting pro-business economic reforms over the objections of more left-wing members of the party. BBC reports:

The French cabinet has given the go-ahead for Prime Minister Manuel Valls to force through highly controversial labour reforms.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting invoked the French constitution’s rarely used Article 49.3, allowing the government to bypass parliament.

It came after rebel MPs from the governing Socialist party had vowed to vote down the bill.

The reforms will make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers. […]

The government says relaxing workers’ protection will encourage businesses to hire more people and help to combat chronic unemployment.

Valls’ decision is part of a long-running trend: For decades, the decline of the blue social model has been pushing many European countries, including ones we think of as social democracies, to abandon some of the more statist features of their economic agendas. Policies that worked relatively well in closed, stable, national economies of the mid-20th century fail to deliver in the open, dynamic economies of the 21st—and even center-left governments are forced to adapt to this reality once they take power.

But the fact that the changes had to be forced through by executive decree also highlights the challenges facing democratic governance on both sides of the Atlantic. Executive power in the U.S. has steadily expanded in the last two administrations, in part because of political rancor and Congressional gridlock. Most European governments have been able to avoid this outcome because Parliamentary systems are more conducive to building temporary political majorities. But as their countries continue to grapple with economic headwinds and social upheaval, it may be that Parliamentary systems, too, will start to show signs of decay.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Cromulent

    It’s not that tough. The harder socialism is tried the harder it fails.

  • PierrePendre

    The French Socialist party govern mainly as social democrats when they are in power but have never formally become social democratic. In the early years of the 21st century when the party was out of power and in the doldrums, there was talk of a name change. François Hollande, then boss of the party apparat, had no objection other than to the adoption of any name mentioning social democracy. It’s still a Socialist party philosophically rooted in the socio-economics, including that of Marx, of the 19th century.

    There’s no reason to think Hollande has changed his mind despite the country’s and his government’s difficulties under his presidency and nor has the party. The exigencies of reality have forced Hollande in a social democratic direction because the need to break the long-running deadlock between Capital and Labour have made reforms imperative. But a large section of the party and its allies among the trades unions and smaller political groupings further to the Left – including the Greens – do not want to go there. Loyalty to the French social model demands that Capital surrender to Labour in their view.

    Hollande hides behind his thrusting young economy minister – a smooth former Rothschild banker – and his pugnacious prime minister who is as far to the right as it is possible to be and still claim to be a socialist who between them are trying to modernise and rejuvenate France against a Left stuck in its devotion to the obsolete exception française.

    Now that the government has forced its reforms through parliament, it remains to be seen whether the political battle will move to the traditional next phase of strikes and mass demonstrations in the streets. Good weather for it.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service